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11 Things Teachers Can Do For Your Kids, That You Just Can’t Do

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It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher. You need to have tremendous patience, strong knowledge in your subject area (or areas), plus the ability to reach kids and speak at their level. I spent a summer teaching and, honestly, that was about as much as I could muster. While humbling, that summer is also the reason why I admire and respect the teaching profession. I know, deep down, that good teachers can do things for my son that I can’t.

That’s not to say, of course, that I want to defer all my responsibilities as a parent to a teacher. As a mom, I am in charge of making sure my son is fed, bathed, dressed, safe, healthy, and happy. I need to be sure to provide a nurturing environment at home, where he has ample opportunity to learn and grow and explore. I need to be the first to teach him about inclusion and feminism and body acceptance and self care and love and any other lesson that I decide is important. I have to be observant and open to him at every opportunity and without hesitation. Just because my son will be in the care of a teacher, doesn't mean my job ends.

However, despite my best and most valiant efforts, I know I’ll always miss things and look past certain things and lack the ability to be present for all the things, especially as he gets older and gains more independence. He may not always want to confide in me, and because I won’t always be observing him, certain things will simply be out of my control. Fortunately, a great teacher can fill in those blanks, including (but not limited to, of course) the following things:

They Can Offer A Different Perspective

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I like to think of myself as a fairly open-minded mother, but that doesn’t mean I know everything about, well, everything. A good teacher will be able to offer my son a different perspective on a number of topics, thanks to their particular and unique lived experience. Even if it’s a perspective I don’t always agree with, it will help teach him how to unapologetically and confidently make up his own mind and form his own beliefs.

Teach My Child Subject Matter That’s Beyond My Expertise

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I am terrible at math, an issue I hope my son never has to deal with. If my son needs help writing a paper, I’m his go-to gal. Figuring out algebra or calculus? That will all be up to his teachers. I need them for this.

Inspire My Kid In Ways That I Can’t

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While I’d love to think that my son is going to look up to me his whole life, I know he’ll need inspiration from others. Perhaps he’ll meet a teacher who has climbed Mount Everest or who can play the violin or has played a professional sport, and he’ll think they are the greatest. This will help him figure out who and what he wants to become, later in life.

Find Opportunities For My Child That Aren’t Available To Me

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Teachers often have access to or knowledge of academic opportunities that parents may not be aware of. They might be able to tell my son about a special program at school, or invite him to join an after-school club or team, or write him letters of recommendation. A great teacher can do all these things.

Observe Behaviors In My Kid I Might Be Oblivious To

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While I hope that my son is never a bully or the subject of bullying, only a good teacher can observe whether bullying is happening in their classroom and amongst their students. Only a good teacher will be able to pick up on learning disorders, or on advanced learning capabilities.

Set Important Rules And Routines I May Not Already Be Doing At Home

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Routines help kids feel in control, help them feel safe and help them with self-discipline. I’ll be the first to admit that I am lousy about routines (it’s a work in progress, you guys) so I will be thankful for my son’s school routines when they happen. I know that these out-of-the-home rules and routines will help him in the long run.

Discipline My Child, When It’s Necessary, In Ways I Can’t

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Being a disciplinarian is tough, especially when it comes to your own kids. You want to be tough but not too strict. You want to be an authority figure but you also want to listen to them. You want them to have body autonomy but you want to keep them safe. I am still learning the ropes on how to discipline my child, but I know it’ll be incredibly important for him to have others that force him to understand boundaries, especially as he ages and interacts with others.

Push My Little One To Try New Things

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My toddler isn’t always big on, say, trying new foods. He’s also not big on giving new books and new toys a fair chance (he’d much rather always get a new car than he would a science play set). I know that a good teacher will eventually help to nudge him toward new things to the point that, just maybe, he enjoys them.

Believe In My Kid When I Might Be Too Exhausted Or Distracted

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It’s hard being a cheerleader for your kid every hour of every day for always, and there will probably be times when I am too drained from work and life and motherhood to always be there. Good teachers serve as a second line of support. They can be there when my kid needs someone, especially at school when I am unable to be there immediately.

Make My Child Laugh When I'm Not Around

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Never underestimate the power of laughter. Great teachers are the ones that get to know your kid, get to know what they like, and realize how to put a smile on their face. You can’t put a price on that.

They Can Serve As A Mentor And Friend

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The best teachers aren’t just a source of inspiration, they also serve as mentors and even friends. One of the best teachers I ever had (shoutout to Mr. Reid from 7th grade civics class) still keeps in touch with his students, and even created an alumni program for us all to keep in touch while doing community service. Yes, I know not every teacher will go that far, but that doesn’t mean your child’s teacher can’t also lend an ear when your kid needs someone to talk to, or give advice, or offer up words of encouragement. The best teachers will do this in a heartbeat.